TORONTO - A call to make a big splash in the heart of Canada's
financial district as the workweek began caused barely a ripple Monday,
but unfazed Occupy Bay Street protesters pledged to press their condemnation of the country's economic system.


About
two dozen demonstrators quietly thrust placards in the air near the
Toronto Stock Exchange, while the usual frenetic pedestrian rush paid
little attention.


Inspired by Occupy
Wall Street, Peter Poulos, 27, said he wanted to take a “more proactive
approach” than the other protesters who remained in the downtown park
they had occupied.

 

“(My girlfriend) says to me: 'You might be
the only one down there,' and I be like, 'If I am, I'm proud of that',”
said Poulos, who had called for a big march via Facebook.


“Not many people will ever do this.”


Poulos, a York University philosophy major, said he wanted economic fairness and equality.


As he passed by the clutch of protesters on Bay Street, Scott Crone appeared bemused.


Despite reading up on the movement, Crone, who works for an insurance company, said he was still a bit confused by it.


“I've had a hard time hearing an articulate reason for what they're protesting,” Crone said.


“I don't think the average person knows what (the demonstrators) are talking about.”


Like their Wall Street counterparts, who took over a Manhattan plaza a month ago, the Occupy Toronto protesters decry a system they say serves only the elites.


The
protesters moved into St. James Park on Saturday, pitching tents,
debating aims and procedures at “general assemblies,” and attempting to
get themselves organized.


After a cold, wet weekend, the sun broke out Monday morning over the park, a few blocks east of Bay Street.


As
he sat on the park's gazebo, Zach, 22, said he was unsure why the tiny
group had gone to the stock exchange without telling the rest of the
protesters.


“It's a little sloppy right now,” said Zach, who refused to give his last name.


“We've
spent a long time in a system that has put things in a certain box and
now we're coming out of that box and it's going to be chaotic.”


But
Zach, who hitchhiked four hours from Meaford, Ont., to join the
protest, said people had come together to talk about improving the
system and that's how change would happen.


“It's not going to be by voting for the puppet on the left or the puppet on the right,” he said.


“It's going to be the people standing up and taking back the power.”


At
about noon, scores of the Toronto protesters marched under police
escort a few blocks north to a long-planned Social Justice Week event
at Ryerson University's campus before returning to the park.


In more than a dozen centres across the country on the weekend, thousands of protesters took to the streets.


In
a rainy Halifax, a dozen soaked tents lined the periphery of the Grand
Parade in front of city hall on Monday, as cardboard signs expressing
frustration and anger lay limp on the ground.


James Green, a spokesman for Occupy
Nova Scotia, said the protesters planned to stay for the time being to
push their message of social justice and economic equality.


“We
are all watching the other occupations take place around the world, and
we know that we are going to face rain and things worse than rain,”
Green said.


Across the country in Vancouver, where thousands
protested on Saturday, the dozens of people still camped outside the
Vancouver Art Gallery on Monday also said they were in for the long
haul.


One of them, Ethan Painchaud, 19, suggested that blocking some of the city's main streets might further their cause.


“I don't agree with violence, but we do need to get attention,” Painchaud said.


Glen Whitlock, 54, said he was there to ensure the protests don't get ugly.


“I'm willing to risk my well-being to stop the violence if it does happen,” Whitlock said.


As
he clutched his sign reading, “Everyone deserves their fair share,”
Poulos said most people know there's a problem with the current
economic order.


Older people, he said, need to do some soul searching.


“If they look at themselves back when they were younger than me, they might see themselves as lost a bit,” Poulos said.


“Sometimes we lose ourselves as we get older.”

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